Like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," a right turn onto Pimlico Drive in Tinton Falls' development brings into view hundreds of seagulls perched along the rooftops of the clusters of townhouses that line the street. Although the rain was coming down steadily during a drive through the neighborhood Wednesday morning, there were still streaks of white splattered across the tops of the building where the flock had obliviously defecated and feathers were scattered throughout grassy yards down below.
Then without warning, they took off in unison -- hundreds, if not thousands of seagulls filling the air with squawks and flapping wings, circling the development until, just as suddently, they came to rest on the roofs again.
At least 25 residents came out to themeeting on Tuesday to relay to officials the scary details of trying to live their lives surrounded by the feathered interlopers, which includes feces-covered cars, patios and furniture and children unable to play outside. Unlike their attacking bretheren in the 1963 Hitchcock classic, the Tinton Falls birds' filth is what's hair raising and residents are more worried about being pooped on then pecked.
"They sound like they are people walking around on your roof," said Fox Chase resident Christine Bucco at Tuesday's meeting of the "hundreds" of seagulls that congregate on her townhouse at the crack of dawn. Bucco, who has lived in the development for 13 years, said the problem has grown steadily worse since "mid-summer."
"The birds are there for one reason," said Ira Schussheim, the developer of Fox Chase, "food." He urged the council to advocate for borough residents and businesses with the county to find a solution for the problem, which was greeted by applause from the audience.
Everyone who spoke at the meeting -- from residents to council members and borough administrators -- agreed that the gulls were drawn to the neighboring landfill on Shafto Road as their primary source for eating.
Gary Baldwin, borough council president, said the Monmouth County Reclamation Center had purchased falcons recently to solve their own seagull issue, which seems to have pushed the problem out of one pocket of town and into another.
According to a letter sent out by Mayor Michael Skudera to residents on Dec. 2, county officials implemented the measures to rid the gulls without communicating with Tinton Falls and it was through Baldwin's recent efforts working with the reclamation center that the falcon flying program was suspended.
Baldwin also brought his own pictures to the meeting of gulls resting atop Seabrook Village, where he is a resident, to illustrate that the bird problem isn't unique to Fox Chase.
According to Sandra Van Sant, a health officer with the Monmouth Regional Health Commission, "Our job is to make sure the landfill is doing what they can not to provide a food source (for the birds)." She said representatives from the landfill were working with the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the reclamation center, to come up with a remedy that doesn't just push the birds some place else.
Council members will also attend the regular Board of Chosen Freeholders' meeting on Dec. 8 to "make (their) voices heard," according to Turning.
A number of residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting said the odor coming from the reclamation center has become an issue recently, leaving them unable to open their windows and permeating the inside of their homes.
Schussheim, who lives in Sea Bright, said he's never seen more than 20 gulls at a time on the beach.
"In a natural environment they are wonderful things," he said of the gulls. "Here, they present a health hazard."